Reflections On Becoming a Real Lawyer

New Lawyer MentoringOn November 6th, Illinois welcomed nearly 1,900 new lawyers to the ranks. I had the opportunity to attend the 1st Judicial District ceremonies, held in the Arie Crown Theater, where my own swearing-in took place more years ago than I care to admit.

Watching those fresh-faced men and women raise their hands as Supreme Court Justices Anne Burke and Mary Jane Theis administered the oath of office brought a rush of warm memories. Unlike current practice, back in the “old days,” most law firm new-hires worked part-time while studying for the bar, and full-time while awaiting bar results. So even though a desk-full of work awaited me back at the office, I remember feeling like swearing-in day was special. Like joining any club with high barriers to entry, becoming a member of the Illinois bar felt like a pretty big deal. In that instant of taking the oath, my status magically changed: I was a “real” lawyer, even though I didn’t yet entirely understand all that entailed.

That would come later, after many hours of client meetings, document review, reworking drafts, debating strategy, eating cold pizza in conference rooms, and knowing the members of the building’s cleaning staff by name. What I remember most about that first year of law practice was… READ MORE

Katherine Erwin

Katherine Erwin

As the Commission's Special Projects Director, Katherine managed the statewide attorney mentoring program and other special projects. She practiced law in Chicago for 20 years. Then she founded the Chicago office of a legal placement agency, and placed highly credentialed attorneys in law firms, corporate legal departments and governmental agencies. Most recently, Kathy served in the Career Services Office of the University of Chicago Law School. A graduate of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and the University of Michigan Law School, she lives in Lincoln Park with her husband and daughter.

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Katherine Erwin

Katherine Erwin

As the Commission's Special Projects Director, Katherine managed the statewide attorney mentoring program and other special projects. She practiced law in Chicago for 20 years. Then she founded the Chicago office of a legal placement agency, and placed highly credentialed attorneys in law firms, corporate legal departments and governmental agencies. Most recently, Kathy served in the Career Services Office of the University of Chicago Law School. A graduate of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and the University of Michigan Law School, she lives in Lincoln Park with her husband and daughter.

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